RESEARCH UPDATE: Blueberries may help to lower risk of depression.
As if we didn't already have a million reasons to love blueberries, a recent, large-scale study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has shown that a diet higher in flavonoid consumption, particularly among older and middle-aged women, may be associated with a lower risk of depression. Flavones and proanthocyanidins (which is what gives blueberries that lovely blue colour) showed the strongest associations.
How do they work?
Researchers went on to say that although the specific links between flavonoids and depression are unclear, growing evidence supports a beneficial role for flavonoids on mood and brain health, via potential direct and indirect mechanisms. Direct mechanisms may include modulating signaling pathways responsible for maintaining neuron survival and inducing synaptic plasticity; indirect mechanisms may include reducing neuroinflammation, improving blood flow, or reducing oxidative stress.
Remembering that blueberries are also great for our eyes, brain, cardiovascular system and skin - in fact many think blueberries really are the fountain of youth - I think it's fair to say we should be making these a very regular addition to our weekly grocery shop!
If you'd like to learn more, read on or click on the link to the study.
Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of incident depression in midlife and older women.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jul 13.
DESIGN: The study followed a total of 82,643 women, without a previous history of depression at baseline from the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) and the Nurses' Health Study II. Intakes of total flavonoids and subclasses (flavonols, flavones, flavanones, anthocyanins, flavan-3-ols, polymeric flavonoids, and proanthocyanidins) were calculated from food-frequency questionnaires collected every 2-4 years. Depression was defined as physician- or clinician-diagnosed depression or antidepressant use and was self-reported in response to periodic questionnaires.
RESULTS: In the NHS only, total flavonoids, polymers, and proanthocyanidin intakes showed significant (9-12%) lower depression risks. In analyses among late-life NHS participants (aged ≥65 y at baseline or during follow-up), for whom researchers were able to incorporate depressive symptoms into the outcome definition, higher intakes of all flavonoid subclasses (except for flavan-3-ols) were associated with significantly lower depression risk; flavones and proanthocyanidins showed the strongest associations
CONCLUSIONS: Higher flavonoid intake, particularly among older women, may be associated with lower depression risk.